Plans to convert a fire-damaged Grade-II listed church in Blackburn town centre into offices look set for approval at a council meeting on Thursday.

The application seeks to change the 230-year-old St John the Evangelist Church in Victoria Street into offices, while also adding an extension to the historic building.

As well as planning permission, the work also requires listed building consent, and Blackburn with Darwen Council planning officers have recommended both be granted at tomorrow’s meeting of the Planning and Highways Committee.

The plans state: “The proposed developments involve the complete refurbishment of the fire-damaged Grade II listed St John the Evangelist Church.

Lancashire Telegraph: The church was ravaged by fire in 2019The church was ravaged by fire in 2019

“The proposals involve converting the church into a flexible workspace, providing offices, meeting rooms and lettable desks.

“A number of external works are proposed to facilitate the refurbishment including the construction of a new roof, the installation of new windows and internal remodelling.

“The redevelopment will see the creation of four floors utilising space in the former church and its belltower.

“The design includes the creation of a new pitched roof with a series of rooflights to all four sides to replace the Victorian structure lost in the fire.”

Floors with glass-fronted offices, smaller office blocks, meeting rooms and an open-plan flexible area would be created, with historic features such as plasterwork and cast-iron columns retained.

The derelict church, located within the Blackburn Town Centre and the Richmond Terrace Conservation Area, is currently in a state of disrepair following a significant fire in April 2019.

Lancashire Telegraph: How St John's Chruch currently looksHow St John's Chruch currently looks (Image: Blackburn with Darwen Council)

It was built in 1789, with a vestry added in 1865 and further additions in 1891.

The exterior of the church would be restored, and new shrubbery and wildflowers planted to reinvigorate the appearance of the area.

In their assessment, planning officers said the town centre is a “principal location for commercial development”, and 18 months of discussions have taken place to protect the heritage of the listed building.

They add the offices are a “valuable opportunity to resurrect it and reinstate it to its former glory”, while essential modern additions will be screened off to protect its historic appearance, while enhancing other surrounding buildings in the conservation area.

The said the mezzanine floor would “adequately reflect the historic galleries” in the church and the “design would also provide a sense of openness and height, like the church would have had previously”.

Councillors will make their final decision at the meeting on Thursday, November 16.